Beloved

By Toni Morrison And Healing
The theme of "healing" is ever present in the novel, Beloved by Toni

Morrison. Many forms of "healing" take place, with many different
characters undergoing the "healing" process. These forms of
"healing" range from healing personal conflicts from within, to
healing as a community, and by overcoming individual prejudices. I feel that the
overcoming of individual prejudices is one of the most important aspects of this
novel. Throughout the story, Sethe (the main character) has many encounters with
a variety of people. These encounters leave a definite impression on her, which
is why I think that Sethe does the most "healing," both from within
and by overcoming her own prejudices. The meeting of Sethe and Amy Denver is the
focal point of Setheís "healing." This takes place when Sethe (being
pregnant) is a slave on the run and goes into labor. She meets Amy Denver, an
indentured servant who is leaving to Boston. At first, Amy doesnít seem that
she wants to help Sethe because of her skin color, while Sethe isnít too
trusting of Amyís white skin. Sethe later states, "You donít know how
theyíll jump. Say one thing do another"(Morrison 77). This kind of
distrust is present in Sethe when she tells Amy that her name is "Lu."

The combination of Amyís nonchalant attitude, and Setheís distrust displays
the prejudices of society at the time. As Sethe and Amy converse, Sethe realizes
that Amy is unlike any other white person she has ever met. After Amy tells

Sethe about her situation, and that she was also beaten by her
"employer," Sethe realizes that not all whites were the slave owners,
but in fact some were indentured servants. Amy then begins to massage Setheís
swollen feet, and says, "More it hurt, more better it is. Canít nothing
heal without pain, you know" (Morrison 78). I think that at that point

Sethe begins build trust towards trust Amy. Amy then goes and finds spiderwebs
to heal Setheís bleeding back, which displays Amy showing a little compassion
and trust towards Sethe. As Amy again massages Setheís feet, the reader begins
to feel like they are no longer just black and white, but actual people that
have feelings. I think that Morrison wants the reader to get this feeling that
people are people and not property. I feel Amy agrees with this, but at the same
time the prejudices in the society that she has grown up in makes her say things
like, "She donít know nothing, just like you. You donít know a
thing" (Morrison 80). Another example of how prejudices are intertwined
with society, is the constant use of Sethe calling Amy "miss"
throughout the passage. This relays a sort of cultural boundary, the fact that

Amy can call Sethe by her first name but Sethe resorts to acting formally
towards her. The actual delivery of Setheís child is the climax to the
"healing" of Setheís own prejudices. Amy helps Sethe deliver the
baby and with no hesitation, "Push!," screamed Amy (Morrison 84). Amy
no longer thinks of herself as being different from Sethe, which overcomes some
of her own prejudices. At that point, Amy just sees Sethe as a person who needs
help and not a runaway slave that should be left alone. The line, "A
pateroller passing would have sniggered to see two throw-away people, two
lawless outlaws--a slave and a barefoot whitewoman with unpinned hair--wrapping
a ten-minute-old baby in the rags they wore"(Morrison 84-85), better
illustrates the bonding that has taken place. The conclusion to this incident
was the naming of Setheís child, which was aptly named, Denver. For Sethe to
name her own daughter, (after killing her first because she didnít want her to
grow up into slavery) after a whitewoman was a sign of "healing" that
had taken place during that night. Sethe would now have a different opinion
about white people, not to say that it would be that much different, but it
definitely had changed it. In this novel Beloved, we see the "healing"
that takes place within the individual. It is not a physical type of healing,
but more of a psychological healing. This change, or healing may look
insignificant, but to the individual (in this case Sethe) they have a new
outlook on things. They have overcome a certain barrier and now can function in
a new way of thinking. From that point on Sethe doesnít see all white people
as devils, nor does she trust all of them, but by having Amy Denver help deliver
her baby and thus bonding,